People who are educationally disadvantaged are more likely to die in road traffic collisions than those with better qualifications, according to new research from the US.
The study, carried out by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found larger mortality decreases among the more highly educated and some evidence of mortality increases among the least educated.
The researchers examined trends in education-related inequalities in the US for motor vehicle collisions from 1995 to 2010.
The research shows that the death rates in 1995 for people at the bottom of the education spectrum were about 2.5 times more likely to be killed in a road collision than those with a higher quality education. By 2010, the death rate was found to be 4.3 times higher.
The researchers used mortality data from the National Centre for Health Statistics and population estimates from the Current Population Survey to calculate vehicle-and person-miles travelled, using data from the National Household Travel Survey.
In its coverage of the research, the Washington Post draws the conclusion that the underlying issue is not that being educated makes a person better road user, but that less-educated individuals are more likely to live with conditions that can make travelling more dangerous.
For example, they own cars that are older and have lower crash-test ratings, and are also unlikely to be able to afford vehicles with safety features such as side airbags, automatic warnings and rear cameras.
It also suggests that residents who live in poor communities lack ‘crosswalks’ over major roads and have less influence to fight for design improvements such as stop signs, speed bumps and sidewalks. As a result, pedestrian fatalities are higher in these communities.
Sam Harper, one of the report’s researchers, said: “It’s true that there are big differences in the quality of the residential environments that people have in terms of their risks of accidental death as pedestrians.”